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Pat Lam's Connacht slip to narrow defeat to Montpellier in first pre-season outing

The Pro12 champions enjoyed a useful run out in France this evening.

 Cian Kelleher marked his debut with a try.
Cian Kelleher marked his debut with a try.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Montpellier 21
Connacht 19

John Fallon reports from Saint-Affrique

CONNACHT GOT THEIR season up and running with a useful run out against Montpellier in the Challenge Vaquerin in Saint-Affrique.

Conditions were perfect in the small French town in the Massif Central and both sides ran in three tries apiece in a good encounter during which both squads were fully utilised.

It didn’t take Montpellier long to let Connacht know that the new season is up and running with Australian scrum-half Nic White running in the opening try after just 21 seconds.

Ben Botica, making his debut since his summer move from Harlequins, added the easy conversion.

But the Pro12 champions settled and Cian Kelleher crowned his debut with a try in the right corner after 14 minutes after an excellent offload from another newcomer Cormac Brennan from Ballyvaughan in Co Clare, the latest to come out of the Connacht academy.

Jack Carty kicks a conversion Jack Carty kicks a conversion. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Irish-qualified New Zealander Dominic Robertson-McCoy also made a good debut in a side which marked Eoin Griffin’s first game back after a couple of seasons with London Irish.

Montpellier, who also picked up their first silverware last season when they won the European Challenger Cup, used a different 15 in each half in what was their only warm-up game before the Top 14 kicks off next weekend.

They led 14-7 at the break after Fijian international No.8 Akapusi Qera crossed 12 minutes from the break.

Connacht also made wholesale changes at the break with Nepia Fox-Matamua, back for his first game since suffering a knee injury in October, getting in for a try just minutes after the restart after a period of sustained pressure.

Arno Van Wyk, one of the most recent South Africans to join Jake White’s Montpellier, got their third try but winger Brennan, after some neat footwork, marked his debut with a score of his own.

New signing Lewis Stevenson also made his Connacht debut off the bench, with Irish sevens player Josh Rowland from New Zealand also making his bow.

Niyi Adeolokun makes a break Niyi Adeolokun breaks through. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Montpellier scorers:

Tries: N White, A Qera, A Van Wyk
Cons: B Botica (2), D Catrakilis.

Connacht scorers:

Tries: C Kelleher, N Fox-Matamua, C Brennan
Cons: J Carty, S O’Leary.

Connacht:

15. Cian Kelleher
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Bundee Aki
11. Cormac Brennan
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Sean O’Brien
5. Danny Qualter
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements used: Shane Delahunt, Tom McCartney, Ivan Soroka, Ronan Loughney, Saba Meunargia, JP Cooney, Cian Romaine, Lewis Stevenson, James Connolly, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Conor McKeon, Conor Lowndes, Shane O’Leary, Ed O’Keeffe, Peter Robb, Rory Parata, Josh Rowland.

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About the author:

John Fallon

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